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Destroying the Tuscan Kale Salad

Tuscan Kale Salad Closeup

The Tuscan kale salad has served me well over the years, be it in side dish or main course form. Ever since I discovered this simple and traditional Tuscan salad at Tavern Nashville, I’ve fervently attempted countless imitations of the recipe.

Ingredients for Tuscan Kale Salad

Traditionally, the Tuscan Kale salad is made with finely chopped kale (shocking, I know), an olive oil lemon dressing, toasted bread crumbs, pecorino, parmesan or asiago, and, on occasion, dried cranberries. What a boring salad that is though. Let’s make it crazy.

Chopped Kale

In my version, I replace the classic Italian hard cheese with gjetost. If you’ve had a salad with gjetost cheese in it before, you’re a liar. It’s not a thing. The creamy, carmel flavor of this cheese completely changes the flavor profile of the traditional dish. But why stop there? I replaced the lemon in the dressing with blood orange, changing up the citrus. Instead of the traditional Italian bread crumbs, I opted for crushed up blue corn chips, a nod to my Southwestern roots. At this point I realized this was getting a bit out of hand, so to make it completely out of hand, I added grated golden beets. Why not?

Golden Beets

The combination of the aforementioned ingredients proved to be surprisingly delicious. It can be served as an entree or divided up as side portions. The salad tastes absolutely nothing like the original dish upon which it’s modeled, and to me, that’s just perfect.

You’ll Need

  • 2-3 cups of Kale
  • 1/3 cup grated gjetost
  • 3 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely mashed
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 blood orange, seeded and juiced
  • 1/3 cup blue corn chips, crushed
  • 1/3 cup grated golden beets

Method

  1. Cut away the kale leaf from the mid ribs into long strips. Turn the strips sideways to cut into small pieces of shredded kale. Set aside in a salad bowl.
  2. Add in the grated beets
  3. In a small bowl, mix together orange juice, olive oil, mashed garlic, and a pinch of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  4. Pour the dressing over the kale and toss.
  5. Add about three quarters of the cheese and re-toss
  6. Let the salad sit for 5 minutes, at minimum. You can also refrigerate it now and serve it later.
  7. Top the salad with the smashed corn chips and the rest of the cheese.

Tuscan Kale Salad

Mac and Cheese Sliders

DSC09697Memorial Day has absolutely nothing to do with food. Anyone claiming otherwise is sadly misinformed. The last Monday in May has everything to do with honoring the heroic men and women that have valiantly served and defended our country. That being said, a man’s got to eat. So on this day of giving thanks for our servicemen and servicewomen made the most American thing possible – burgers – and then shoved a healthy dose of more America inside – Macaroni and Cheese. Yes, I know Mac and Cheese is technically British but a. America does it better and b. if you disagree, feel free to email me your location and we can set up a physical altercation.

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Keeping in step with the American theme, I decided to make my sauce pan a “Great Melting Pot”. Cheese from Ireland, England, and Norway all graced my pasta sauce. Yes, I realize this would only count as cultural diversity if we lived in the 18th century and I promise next time to add cotija, shanklish, and paneer for the more socially progressive palate.

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As for the burgers themselves I committed a cardinal sin. While fattier sausage increases the taste of beef patty burgers, adding it to bison ruined what would have been a perfect flavor. The next time I make this dish I would either subtract the sausage or replace the bison with beef.

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There were certainly a few things I learned in the process of making these sliders. The first is that when you make homemade mac’n’cheese you must let the sauce simmer for at least fifteen minutes for it to be thick enough. The other thing I learned was that stuffing burgers is easy and any product created for such purpose is pointless.

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You’ll Need

Macaroni and Cheese

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  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni or whatever small macaroni, I don’t care
  • 1 cup red leicester
  • 1 cup cheddar
  • .5 cup gjetost
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2.5 tbsp flour

Burgers

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  • Dinner rolls
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lb group bison
  • .5 lb italian sausage

Method

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  1. Follow the box directions on your macaroni and cook it until just before al dente
  2. Drain the pasta and set aside
  3. Over medium heat in a sauce pan, melt 1/4 cup of butter.
  4. Slowly add the flour and mix to create a roux.
  5. Next add the milk
  6. Throw all the cheese in
  7. Stir on low heat until the cheese has melted. Keep occasionally stirring for another 15 minutes to thicken the sauce.
  8. Add in the macaroni and stir thoroughly.
  9. Take the sauce pan off the heat.
  10. In a mixing bowl combine the cracked egg and meats. Do not compress to hard.
  11. Using a little more than half the meat, create small patties with indentations in them, you should have 7 or 8.
  12. Spoon some of the mac’n’cheese into each indentation
  13. With the remaining meat, flatten out into thin patties to put over the base burgers. Crimp around the edges
  14. Throw these monstrosities on a medium high grill until cooked through.
  15. Serve on dinner rolls. If you need condiments, you probably don’t have taste buds.

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